Surgery for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer

Surgery is one of the main treatments for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. You might have surgery alone or with other treatments, for example, radiotherapy. Or you may have it to relieve symptoms, such as difficulty eating.

About surgery

You are likely to have a team of specialist surgeons and other health professionals looking after you. You will meet some of these before your operation and have tests and assessments. 

Types of surgery

The type of surgery you have depends on the size and location of your cancer. 

Reconstruction surgery

When the surgeon removes a large area of tissue, they rebuild (reconstruct) the area. 

Surgery to help you breathe or eat

Cancers of the mouth and oropharynx can sometimes block a part of your throat, which may affect your breathing and eating. Find out how surgery can help. 

Surgery to remove the lymph nodes in your neck

Cancers of the mouth and oropharynx can spread to lymph nodes in your neck.  

Preparing for your surgery

Before your surgery, you have tests to check your fitness and you meet members of your treatment team.

Going into hospital

Get tips on what to take into hospital. 

On the day of surgery

There are a few things to do before you go to theatre for your surgery.

After mouth cancer surgery

How you feel after your operation depends on the type of surgery. Find out more about how you might feel and possible problems.

Last reviewed: 
30 Jul 2021
Next review due: 
30 Jul 2024
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